Thursday, December 31, 2020

Everything I painted this year

28mm Fantasy

28mm Sci-fi

20mm Historical

15mm Historical

10mm Historical

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

North Star Oathmark Skeleton Infantry

I was really excited when North Star announced their plan to release a set of multi-part plastic skeleton warriors with European Bronze Age-style armour and weapons. There are many sets of plastic skeletons on the market, but most have rather unrealistic looking skeletons and armour and weapons that are too fantastical for my taste. In my opinion GW has some of the best skeleton warriors available - I haven't bought any of Mierce Miniature ones - but these North Star ones are right up there with them.

One of the issues I have with skeleton warriors is their armour and weapons. Most fantasy wargames and RPGs are set in the medieval or pseudo-medieval era, and skeleton warriors are usually styled as the reanimated remains of the long-dead warriors (well, long enough for the flesh to have rotted away, at least); the idea of having skeleton warriors sporting what are contemporary armour and weapons just seem off to me. Zombies, yes. But for skeleton warriors, I want a more archaic style.

When I started my RPG campaign in Terrinoth, I imagined that the civilisations there went through a similar progression from Stone Age to Bronze Age and then Iron Age, as our own did. That means that when the PCs explore (aka loot) any ancient tombs, they should come across artefacts and remains from these eras.

When preparing for my Barrowmaze campaign, I wanted to give an European Bronze Age aesthetics to parts of the complex, and to that end I bought a few Etruscan warrior miniatures to paint as bronze statues - I wanted a visual contrast between the arms and armour the PCs had and those used by the civilisation that created the burial complex. I was unable to find any figures of skeleton warriors from the Bronze Age other than those of classical Greek style, which was not what I had in mind. So you can imagine my joy when I saw the first pictures of the North Star figures.

The figures are multi-part, with the torso and legs coming in one piece, and separate arms holding weapons, and heads/skulls. As with all multi-part skeleton figures, there is not a lot of surface area at the connection between the parts, which would make the assembled figure fragile. To overcome this, I drilled holes at the bases of the skulls to allow for a better fit between the neck and the skull, and for the arms I aimed for at least one more point of contact between the arm and the torso. 

For these archers, this meant having the bow or bow arm touching some part of the torso, or gluing the arrows to the bows (to the correct side of the bow, I might add) such that there was a whole mechanical connection running from one shoulder joint through the arrow, to the bow, and then back to the other shoulder joint. As you can see from the picture, there were a few ways one could do this and still make the poses look natural.

For the spearmen I either rested the butts of the spears on the bases, or else rested the shafts of the spears on the rims of the shields.

Similarly for the figures holding one-handed weapons, I glued the weapons to the rims of the shields, giving the look that they are shielding their weapon hands while waiting to strike.

These guys still need to be put on bases, and I will also need to eventually make a banner for them, but for now they are ready for my RPGs. I look forward to using them in my next game.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Mirliton Etruscan warriors and Northstar/Frotsgrave multi-part plastic figures

To me, one of the greatest developments in the hobby in recent years are the number of multi-part plastic figures Northstar Figures have been releasing in support of Frostgrave and Oathmark. Between the two lines, a GM can probably create a PC figure for any human, elf, or dwarven PC. With the latest release of the demonic infantry box, one can also create Tiefling figures, although personally I have never had a Tiefling PC in any of my campaigns...

Shown above are two of the PCs from our Barrowmaze campaign: Francis the paladin and Tamira the cleric, both from the cult of Kellos, as evident by their red garb and golden shields. Francis was built from the Frostgrave Knights sprue and carries an Oathmark dwarven shield. while Tamira was build with the head and torso from the Frostgrave female wizard sprue, and arms from the Frostgrave Knight sprue.

I also made a "supplies" base using bits from the various sprues - this represents a cache of supplies stashed by an adventuring party in the dungeon; encumbrance is a major issue in Old School RPGs, and I assumed that at some point the party would have to leave some of their supplies behind so they could carry more loot, or that they might come across supplies stashed by other parties.

The bronze statues are Etruscan warriors from Mirliton's 28mm historical range. They are meant to represent humans, but their old school proportions are not a good match for those of the modern plastic figures. Their style, however, match those of earlier bronze age cultures, and that was why I chose to use them. They were painted with a base coat of Citadel Warplock Bronze (a very nice dark bronze), and the patina was created by mixing Citadel Sybarite Green, Citadel Hoeth Blue, and methylated spirit.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #8

On the 1st day of Ostar, guild members Laethen, Madian, Kelso, and Francis (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Karl in employment, attempted to return to the chamber where the steles were found via mound #20, but were driven back by skeletal warriors, some of whom were armed with bows, which the members surmised must be supplied by some unknown party.

The party then instead descended to the underground complex via mound #16, where they explored to the north and then the west. Here they came upon a chamber, where the remains of two tomb-robbers were found. When the party attempted to discover the cause of their deaths, the corpses reanimated and attacked them, but were destroyed.

The party then explored a blocked door along the passage, and found behind it a cave, wherein was a stone statue of a humanoid figure with a tail and antlers upon his head, which the party surmised to be a representation of the god Kurnos. A pit, hidden by an illusory spell, was discovered in front of the statue, but nothing else of note or of value was found here.

Them proceeding south with the aim of reaching the chamber with the stele, they found their way once more blocked by skeletal warriors, and retreated to the surface.

Guild member Kelso then proposed that the party explore mound #35, which previously was used by tomb-robbers as a lair, and found within a passage leading to the underground complex, which was not discovered by the guild rangers previously. Descending the passage, the party was yet again assailed by skeletal warriors, and retreated once more.

Thrice thwarted in their attempt to reach the chamber of the steles, the party then decided instead to explore barrow #34. Here they found an antechamber with the statue of a bearded warrior. Taking the passage to the left, they came upon a chamber with a single sarcophagus. When they attempted to recover the grave goods within, the remains of the occupant within animated and attacked them. Guild member Laethan was struck upon his throat, and fell, and could not be revived. The party withdrew from the mound, and returned to the guild.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was significant for three reasons.

Firstly, I decided that the Death Cultists had to take some action to prevent the incursion of the guild to the underground complex, as they were interfering with their goal. An attack on the guild itself would be too drastic and would invite retaliation. A more "natural" way of  dissuading the guild members from entering the complex would be increase the number of "wandering monsters" in the complex by animating more skeletons, and arming them with missile weapons so they can fight on an equal footing with the adventurers. The problem of course is that while rusty swords and spears might still be able to cause some damage, there was no way centuries-old bows and arrows could realistically work. The cultists (i.e. I as the GM) had to make the decision to supply them with "modern" bows and arrows, which of course advertises the fact that someone with access to a supply of these things were arming the skeletons... I guess there is no perfect solution.

The second significant event in this session is that the players have finally made the connection between the overground map and the underground map, which allowed them to predict the likely entrances to the underground complex. Using this knowledge, they were able to deduce that mound #35, previously used as a lair by the cultists, would possibly contain an entrance to the complex. They were of course correct, but the cultists have anticipated this, and placed a party of skeletons here too. While they were unable to get to their destination, the players now know that someone was actively preventing them from doing so, and with the supply chain to the area being rather limited, it will be just a matter of time before they find information that will lead them to the cultists.

The third significant event was the death of a character. In Five Torches Deep, while it is easy for a low-level character to "go down", actual, permanent character death is still rare, happening only on a 1 in 20 chance. Almost every PC in the game so far have "gone down" and suffered loss in stat points, but this is the first time someone rolled a '1' on the d20 "death roll". Worse, it happened to a player who is new to the group and to the hobby. I was reluctant to make the result stick, but I decided that the possibility of death was what gave meaning to the game.

Due to the year-end holiday season, our next session will be in about four weeks. Have a good holiday, and let's all hope that next year will be a better one.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ogre, Tiny Towns, and Blood Bowl Season 2

With our Frostgrave campaign concluded, FG, Adrian, and I decided to play a few boardgames in our last session for the year.

The first game we played was Ogre, which FG, Martin, and I last played two years ago. The last time we played the maths seemed a little off and the Ogres crushed everything in their paths. This time things seemed more balanced, but it seems like the best strategy is to target the Ogres' tracks. Perhaps one of these days we can play a large armour battle instead.

We then played Tiny Towns, which I really enjoy but which I am really bad at.

Finally, we played a few turns of Blood Bowl using the current Season 2 rules. The rules don't seem to have changed enough to make them totally foreign, but I am sure some of the new rules (like allowing players to jump over prone and stunned players) will be significant.

Our next game will probably in four weeks or so, and hopefully we will be able to play a non-league game for warm-up by then.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Games 9 and 10

After a short hiatus due to work, we finally managed to play the last two games in the campaign last week.

The first scenario was rather easy: with no real ranged attacks and a limited movement range, the banshees were no real threat to us and easily defeated, which gave us time to set up the second and final scenario.

The final scenario looked rather intimidating: there were armoured skeletons and cultists to overcome, before we can get at the Lich Lord, who was protected by wraith knight bodyguards.

We made a quick plan and got to it: Adrian's barbarians dealt with the skeletons, while FG's medievals went for the cultists, and my skavens, fastest and armed with the best Undead-slaying weapon we have, charged straight for the Lich Lord.

While the two other warbands made short work of the resistance, my skavens arrived in the end zone: some charged at the wraith knights to prevent them from interfering, while the three skavens with magical weapons engaged the Lich Lord.

At one point things looked grim as one of the skaven warriors was killed, and the Lch Lord fended off the other two attackers, leaving him free to cast spells the next turn... then FG's magical construct made it into melee, and cut down the already wounded Lich Lord.

Over all the campaign was fun, but with each successive game the challenge became weaker. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we were not very competitive in our play after the first two or three games: there was plenty of treasure to go around, and since we all knew that the final scenario was against a powerful villain, it made little sense to weaken each other.

FG has bought the next campaign in the series, and I have yet to have a detailed look at the scenarios, but I think we will need to build the competition into the rules, or else have one player take the role of the bad guys, either permanently, or on a rotating basis.

We will be playing the Ogre boardgame next, while we wait for Adrian and his friend to paint their Blood Bowl teams. In the meanwhile, I will need to learn the game rules - not easy as I will need to abandon the preconceptions from the previous edition - and the league rules.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #7

On the 30th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Kimly, Tamira, Laethan, and Madian (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the underground chambers via the entrance in barrow #16.

Exploring to the south and then east, they came upon a chamber wherein the pillars took the forms of men and attacked them, and they retreated.

Proceeding east from there, they broke into the chamber to the north of the one which held the tomb of a dwarf, to find within it a single sarcophagus, the occupant of which rose as an undead and battled them. They were able to vanquish the undead and recover its grave goods.

Proceeding then further eastwards and then south, they came to a chamber, within which was a plinth, upon which a large bronze mirror, held in a gold-leaved ornamental frame, sat. Suspicious of traps, the party observed the room, and found a pit trap before the plinth, and protrusions in the facing stones upon the walls on either side of the chamber.

When the party entered the chamber, the protruding facing stones animated and took the forms of men, and attacked the members. While their weapons had little effect upon the guardians, the party were able to with clever use of ropes trip up the guardians, and then drag them into the pit, and recover the bronze mirror.

Proceeding then back west and then south again, with the intent of returning to the surface via the passage from barrow #20, the members heard the sounds of hammering upon stone. Suspecting unlicensed tomb robbers, the members investigated the source of the sound, and found within a large chamber six men in the act of breaking a white stele inside it. The men would not parley with the members, but immediately attacked them. The party feigned a retreat, and lured their pursuers to a junction, where they were able to trip them with a rope, and then slay two of their members; then, pursuing their erstwhile pursuers back to the chamber, struck down three more of them, and capture their ring-leader, who was a spell-user.

Within the chamber they found the white stele, which was set upon a black stone base. Upon the stele were inscriptions in the ancient Terrinoth tongue, which member Madian could read. The text on the stele, and also upon a stone door to the far side of the room, marked the chamber beyond as the tomb of one Druentes, a holy warrior of Aesodes, the "giver of gifts".

Also upon the floor was a broken black stele, made of a similar stone as the base which the white stele now sat. Upon this black stele the party discerned inscriptions in three scripts: the Terrinoth script, a script similar to it (which guild members have previously seen inscribed upon certain doors in the tombs), and the strange script which was found on the obelisk among the barrows.

The hour being late, the party then returned to the guild with their prisoner via barrow #20, which they discerned was whence the robbers entered the chambers below.

Grave goods recovered were valued at 66 Gros, of which 24 Gros were disbursed to the members according to the contract.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Addendum: The prisoner, having been incarcerated in the guild cellar, was found dead on the morning after. It is not certain if he had died from the wounds sustained in the affray, or of some other cause. The matter being reported to Sergeant Tarran of Fort Rodric, the prisoner and the five men in his company were judge as tomb robbers upon the lands of the Baron, and the guild acquitted of their deaths.

Addendum 2: The matter of the black stele having been known, Brother Lothar had entered into a negotiation with Guildmaster Hassel-Hoffa for its recovery and purchase by the Church, and the expense for the labour for its recovery from the chamber had been duly approved by the Master.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session saw the addition of two new members to the guild and our group, playing the characters of Laethan and Madian. Both are new to the hobby, but took to the life of tomb-robbers pretty quickly.

With two level-1 PCs in the party, the party wisely ran away from fights they thought they could not win, and used their wits and non-weapon equipment instead. Laethan used the randomly-generated 10' chain as a bola in one fight, and the party used ropes to great effect in two fights.

The encounter with the cultists was something I had planned for for a while now. This encounter will advance the plot of the campaign via the discovery of the "Rosetta Stone", which will allow the party to read some of the inscriptions within Barrowmaze.

This encounter also put the plans of the cultists in jeopardy, as after having been denied the use of barrow #35 as their entry to the complex, I decided that they would use barrow #20; now that #20 has also been denied to them, I will need to find another entrance for them.

I imagine that these events will make the cultists realise that the activities of the guild is now interfering with their work in a way that cannot be ignored. How their leadership will respond to this fact I have yet to decide.

There is no game this coming week, so perhaps I will spend the time getting inside the heads of the cultists and decide what to do...

Friday, December 04, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #6

On the 28th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Francis, Kelso, and Graves (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the underground complex via the entrance in barrow #16.

Entering a chamber to the north, they came upon a chamber with many burial niches, the remains within which were partly fossilised by the water that seeped through from the ceiling. When the party sought to recover the grave goods, the skeletons animated and began to attack them. Their magic having failed them, the party retreated, and returned to the Guild without goods.

Addendum: The twelve guild rangers sent by Guildmaster Hassel-Hoffa to secure barrow #35 reported it being abandoned.

On the 29th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Kimly, Kelso, and Graves, with the bearer Lennard in employment, returned to the chamber the members had retreated from the day prior, and by luring the animated skeletons to a defile, vanquished them and recovered the grave goods.

Then, exploring to the east and then north, they ventured into a long corridor where the dragon hybrid was seen fleeing from. Here they found signs of a skirmish, and blood trails leading to the north. Following the trail, they came upon a chamber, within which was a stone altar, upon which were signs of a recent sacrifice. It is not known who was sacrificed, nor who performed the sacrifice.

Leave the chamber, they turned south and entered a blocked chamber, the floor which was flooded. Exploring the chamber, Kimly was attacked by three undead, their forms preserved by the peat-stained water, which disgorged leeches from their mouths. The party was forced to retire from the chamber, and was pursued by the undead, which they then defeated. Returning to the flooded chamber, they were confronted by an incorporeal wraith, which soon vanished. The party was able to recover grave goods from bodies found under the water.

Exploring then to the west and then north, the party came upon a pair of stone double-doors, upon of which was the relief of a man (god?) holding several javelins in one hand, and a tablet with inscriptions upon it in the other. The figures of many men, in apparel of warriors and priests, were depicted below.

Entering through the door, they found a chamber, within which was a stone statue of the same man (god) depicted on the door.  To the north was a blocked door, which the party did not seek to enter, for they had found a hidden door on the western wall. Entering through this hidden door, they followed a passage that led west and then north to anther blocked door, this one unadorned.

While they were attempting to break the door, they were assailed by skeletal warriors that emerged through doors hidden in alcoves along the passage. After defeating the skeletons, the party entered the chamber to the north, and found a single undead figure standing by a sarcophagus. The party was overcomes with fear, and fled.

Grave goods recovered were valued at 101 Gros, 33 Gros of which were disbursed to the members according to the terms of the contract.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Prepping and Running the Game

This session caught me a little off guard.

The first outing pretty much ended before it started, with the two spell-users in the party failing the spell rolls almost immediately, forcing the players to return to the guild empty-handed.

The next expedition was much more profitable, in terms of gold, XPs, and plot.

They chose to go up the corridor where the dragon hybrid fought the cultists in session 2. The dragon hybrid's party came off worse, so I decided that the losers were... recovered by the cultists, and brought to one of the rooms which had a sacrificial altar in it. I actually bought and painted a Reaper Bones altar, which is shown in the photo. There was little the players could learn about the identities of those who were sacrificed and who did the sacrificing, but it was clear to them that there were more than just the usual looters running around in the complex.

The flooded chamber was nearly a TPK, as somehow my players are still making the mistake of having one character explore the room while the rest waited by the door. The wraith is supposed to advance the plot too, but unfortunately none of those present was a worshipper of Kellos, which would have unlocked the plot point. I suspect the party will return here again.

After this encounter the players took me by surprise when they decided to move far north, to a part of the complex that is "above their paygrade". In general, the "level" of the dungeon increased as one moved further away from the western part of the main entrance - the great mound, or barrow #12; however, as Barrowmaze is a single-level dungeon, there was no easy way for the GM to signpost to the players that they were moving into a more dangerous part of the dungeon. I tried to do so by letting the players know that this part of the complex seemed unexplored, and I even had Lennard express reservations about passing through those imposing double-doors, on account of the fact that so far, it seemed that the more elaborate the door, the more dangerous what was behind it turned out to be. The players, however, seemed to take that as: the greater the risks, the richer the loot.

Combat with the undead in the last chamber would certainly have resulted in a TPK, so I decided to ask the PCs to make a Wisdom save, which thankfully two of them failed.

I had earlier planned to up the stakes of the campaign by revealing more of the metaplot this session, but one thing that I have learned is that the tone of the session depends a lot on the composition of my players. Some of my players are more "serious" and interested in the plot, and some are less serious and more interested in the loot. When the serious players are not in a session, I worry that any information I give about the greater threat lurking in the background may be lost on the players, so I tend to want to reserve them for the session when one or more of the serious players are present.

Next session will see two new players join the table and the Guild, so stay tuned for more.